If you’re an avid mountain biker, but happen to live in the city of London, then it’s likely you might have to travel a little further afield to find the trails you desire. But perhaps not as far as you think.
Thankfully, London town is surrounded by plenty of vast rural areas, with an array of exciting off-road options – including both natural and man made MTB tracks.
We’ve rounded up some of the very best – so you don’t have to resort to getting air off your nearest curb…
Just 1.7 miles from Martins Heron train station – which is a 57 minute train journey from London Waterloo – Swinley Forest is a mountain bike centre in Bracknell with purpose designed trails.
There’s over 24km of ready-to-ride trail in total, with an 8 mile red route, 6 mile blue loop, and a family-friendly 1 mile green option.
The Swinley Bike Hub centre offers bike washing facilities, plus all important coffee and bacon rolls. There’s even bike hire available as well as 7-day-a-week coaching and a workshop.
Opening hours for the Bike Hub are below, and parking costs £2:
- April to October
Mon to Sat: 09:00 - 18:00 (Last hire 16:00)
Sun: 09:00 - 17:00 (Last hire 14:00)
- November to March
Mon to Sun: 09:00 - 16:30 (Last hire 14:0)
You can check out the trails and get more info from the Swinley Riders here.
The largest public open space in the area, Epping Forest covers almost 6,000 acres – touching Manor Park in East London and stretching down to Essex.
You can ride to the edge of the forest, or get a train to Chingford Station, which is right next door.
If you don't have a bike, then there's no need to worry - Epping MTB have teamed up with local cycle hire provider Go Further Cycling and you can rent from a fleet of Kona hardtails.
Epsom Downs and Surrey Hills
Jump on a train to Epsom Downs and you can explore a wealth or trails within the M25.
From Epsom, there’s plenty to explore, and the trails naturally link you to the Surrey Hills – where you’ll find some of the best mountain biking in the South East, including Box Hill, Ranmore Common, Leith Hill and Polesden Lacey.
Here you’re in the catchment area for Singletrack School’s dedicated skills coaching, too. They offer coaching at various levels, and have a women’s only session if you fancy some structured training.
If you’re looking for a route, this 30 mile loop takes you far and wide, and you can always pick and choose the sections you fancy, or you can choose to have a go at one of these four routes. There are yet more routes here. If you join a Singletrack School guided ride or coached session, you can also hire a Specialized bike from their fleet, which includes a range of hardtails and some 20" and 24" wheel options for juniors.
Located around 20 miles form central London, and just over the road from Redbridge Cycling Facility, Hainault is a self-contained forest with plenty of single-track and some testing ups and downs to keep you entertained. The ground tends to stay drier than its next door neighbor in Epping, too - and between trails, riders are allowed on the paved paths.
The nearest underground is Fairhop Station and Chadwell Heath train station is just 1.4 miles away.
The Cycle Centre itself does have some purpose built tracks which could provide a nice warm-up area before you hit the forest, too.
Lee Valley VeloPark
Ok – so admittedly you won’t be exploring far and wide, but if you’re beginning your journey on the mountain bike, and after some dedicated skills training, the trails at Lee Valley VeloPark might be right up your street…
The VeloPark, close to Stratford Station, is now home to 5 miles of dedicated trails in total, with blue, red and black loops available. It’s just £5 to pay and ride, or you can book onto a beginner or improver session – check out the details here.
Parking is free for four hours if you're using the centre, and whilst there, you might want to take a look at the BMX area, velodrome, road route or VeloStudio for indoor training!
Check out this video to whet your appetite...
Happy riding! If you’re looking for a testing ride to aim towards this summer, check out these ten epic off-road rides, we’re sure you’ll find one that takes your fancy.